November is when the temperatures plummet and the first heavy snow in Whistler begins falling. The hiking opportunities become limited to easier and lower elevation hikes such as, and . Waterfalls are beautifully numerous in Whistler, and are usually huge, impressive and often easy to get to. , for example, you can drive right to the viewpoint across from the falls.
The Sea to Sky Trail - Whistler Trails November
Brandywine Falls is a short and easily accessible site to see around Whistler in November. It is located just 20 minutes south of Whistler Village on the Sea to Sky Highway. Look for the sign if you are driving up from Vancouver and you can't miss it. The hike is an easy and nice trail that takes less than 15 minutes from your car to the falls viewing platform. North of Whistler Village, just a 20 minute drive away you will find Nairn Falls Provincial Park and a wonderful trail along the Green River that leads to Nairn Falls. The trail from your car to the falls should only take you about 20 minutes and it is beautiful anytime of the year. Even on a rainy, November day. Alexander Falls is one of several great drive-to destinations around Whistler.
All of the amazing hikes such as Joffre Lakes, Wedgemount Lake, Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk, Helm Creek and all the rest will now require snowshoes to do.. and least mid to late in November. This makes for some tough, though very rewarding hikes. Often starting with snowshoes fastened to backpacks until the higher elevations on the trail, where they become necessary. Certainly a lot of caution has to be taken in November as getting caught out in bad weather can quickly obscure the trail and leave you lost in the wilderness.
Bad weather makes the appealing to hike to. There are several. The Wedgemount Hut, the Russet Lake Hut and the Elfin Lakes Hut are just three of the more amazing ones. Whistler is located along the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire and as a result has some amazing hot springs. Skookumchuck Hot Springs is open year-round and is a maintained, though very rustic facility. There is a small charge to use and quite a nice campground along the Lillooet River. The other three, well known hot springs north of Whistler are usually accessible in early November, however snow will eventually close the road access to them by late November. These three hot springs are called Sloquet Hot Springs, which is an hour north of Skookumchuck, and Meager Creek Hot Springs and Keyhole Hot Springs, both located west of Pemberton (Pemberton is north of Whistler).
Hiking in Whistler in November is an interesting month. Usually the snowfall has only been sporadic early in the month and you can still access some great hiking on foot. That is, without snowshoes. Cheakamus Lake is usually accessible to hike until mid November, but of course that depends on the 8k access road. Once it gets snow on it, it becomes difficult to drive. Even a couple centimetres makes it difficult for cars that would have had no problem weeks before. So check the weather or look outside in Whistler Village. If the snowline on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains is up around mid-station then you should be fine to drive to Cheakamus Lake and go hiking. Once you reach the trailhead/parking lot to Cheakamus Lake the hike to the lake only gains minimal elevation, so if you don't have snow at the trailhead, you shouldn't get snow on your hike. November does vary quite a lot for snowfall and some years you can hike to Cheakamus Lake, almost snow-free until early December.
Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars. The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the north end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the hike. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. Most of these giants stretch toward the sky, but some lay along the forest floor giving you an even closer grasp of their size. If you bring kids along, they will disappear into the endless, natural playground.often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler, possibly because of several other groves of massive cedars found elsewhere. If you hike the short 3k trail to
Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. The cost to clean up the mess was deemed too high, so seven train cars were left scattered next to the Cheakamus River. As it turns out, time and local effort has transformed this mess into a wonderful work of art, an extraordinary bike park in the summer, and a great place to snowshoe in the winter. The Cheakamus River winds its way, crashing and emerald green along the length of the Whistler Train Wreck, and there are several spectacular river vantage points that shouldn't be missed. During most of the winter you will need snowshoes to get to the Train Wreck, however if it hasn't snowed for a week or so, you may be fine due to the trail being packed down. Snow usually covers the area until late March or early April. The first part of the Train Wreck is not train wreckage, but instead some amazing views of the Cheakamus River...
Taylor Meadows is a wonderful place to snowshoe in November. One reason for this is fact that the two kilometre access road to the Rubble Creek trailhead is consistently covered in snow from December to April making the roundtrip hike to Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake four kilometres longer. In November, however, you can often find this access road clear of snow and even some of the trail dry as well. You will certainly need snowshoes in November though, certainly as you get higher up in the trail. By the end of November the trailhead should have snow as well. Taylor Meadows is beautiful to snowshoe and especially nice to camp out overnight in. The brutal winter cold weather still hasn't taken hold yet, but Garibaldi Park is covered in a great blanket of snow. This makes the view of Black Tusk from the Taylor Meadows Campsite even more dramatic than in the summer...
Joffre Lakes is an absolutely stunning place to snowshoe in November. You can drive to the partially snowplowed trailhead parking all year-round and Joffre Lakes is so popular with skiers that you can almost always rely on ski tracks in the snow to follow. The trail is fairly well marked with tree markings but having a track in the snow to follow makes the journey much easier. Joffre Lakes is a long, though beautiful 1.2 hour drive north of Whistler. From the trailhead to the first of the three Joffre Lakes is just a few dozen metres so you almost immediately get some stunning views across the lake to distant mountains. The trail then ascends a couple kilometres to the second Joffre Lake which reveals even more amazing views...
Wedgemount Lake is a steep and difficult hike in the summer when there is no snow. It doesn't require technical skill, but it is just exhausting. You gain 1220 metres of elevation in just 7 kilometres and hiking with a backpack takes about 2.5 hours to reach the lake. In the winter, on snowshoes, the Wedgemount Lake trail is considerably harder. In November the trail can be, first, hard to follow, despite the frequent trail markers. Second, on snowshoes, each step on steep ground is one step forward, half a step backward. You plod on slowly and with each step slipping back part way. If you can get past the difficulty of the exhausting winter trek to Wedgemount Lake you will reach an amazing paradise in the mountains. The Wedgemount Lake Hut is an extraordinary oasis of warmth in the middle of the beautiful Wedgemount Lake valley. Anyone can use the hut, anytime. It can sleep up to 8 reasonably comfortably and consists of two large tables on the lower level and a small loft that can fit four people. Sporadically used by skiers in the winter, though rarely used by snowshoers due to the difficulty of the trail in the winter. If you do make it up to Wedgemount Lake you will be rewarded with a phenomenally beautiful, snow filled mountain paradise of a valley. The Wedgemount Lake trail is deep with snow from late December to late June most years. If you snowshoe it November to mid December or mid June to early July, you will only need your snowshoes partway up the trail. Depending on conditions and traffic on the trail, you may get lucky and be able to follow previous tracks in the snow, however this is not reliable. The final kilometre before Wedgemount Lake between the months of November and late June is almost always deep with snow, sometimes as late as mid July. This part is very steep, and even on snowshoes painfully difficult, so consider that if you plan to go.
The Sea to Sky Trail - Whistler Trails in November
The Sea to Sky Trail is a 180 kilometre hiking, biking, walking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and running trail that stretches from Squamish to D'Arcy. Rapidy constructed over the last few years this beautiful route through Whistler is finally in place and for the most part, complete. This extraordinary trail meanders its way through many of Whistler's seemingly endless, beautiful sights and is quickly becoming, yet another, Whistler attraction.
The Whistler section of the Sea to Sky Trail is 33 kilometres long between Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and WedgeWoods Estates just north of Green Lake (north of Whistler Village). The Whistler section of the trail is paved near the Village, and further out, dirt or crushed rock. Some sections are narrow, dirt and challenging as they wind through deep forest in an absurdly winding, though very fun, roller coaster like route through the trees.
North of Whistler Village the trail can be challenging with several hills as it rises above and beyond Parkhurst Ghost Town. This marvellous and newly built section is a wide, crushed rock path that is relaxing and smooth despite continuous hills to reach the summit of the trail. High above Green Lake, the high point of the Whistler part of the Sea to Sky Trail has some fantastic views of mountains all around.
South of Whistler Village, the paved Whistler Valley Trail that the Sea to Sky Trail shares, ends at Cheakamus Crossing and becomes a narrow dirt trail with some wider sections of crushed rock. This beautiful section follows the Cheakamus River making four dramatically beautiful river crossings.
The Cal-Cheak area is one of these beautiful crossings. The Calcheak Suspension Bridge spans the wide and always rushing and chaotic Cheakamus River.
You can't help wonder how Whistler seems to have these great bridges on various trails. They are very long and well constructed and certainly expensive. There is another one further up the Cheakamus River towards Cheakamus Lake.
Evidently, if you are thinking the cute suspension bridge at Calcheak is nice you are in for a shock. Further down the trail you come to the enormous, chasm spanning, Whistler Bungee Bridge. This amazing bridge crosses way above the Cheakamus River far below. The bridge is ridiculously long and absurdly high. Expect to spend some time in this area, not just for the amazing bridge, but also the cliffs just past the bridge, that have some impressive views as well.
Across the Bungee Bridge the Sea to Sky Trail passes near and past some nice viewpoints of distant mountains and valleys. The trail eventually leads directly through Brandywine Provincial Park and very close to the wonderful viewpoint across to the falls.
Brandywine Falls is a great place to park your car and start out on the trail. Calcheak is also a good place to park and there is plenty of room near the, hard-to-miss Sea to Sky Trail signs.
Nearer to Whistler Village there are dozens of good places to park. All of the parks in Whistler on the trail have convenient and free parking.
Right in Whistler Village you will find parking near Lost Lake Park in Lot 4 and get on the trail just metres from your car. North of Whistler there is convenient and free parking at Nicklaus North Golf Course, just a five minute walk from the Green Lake part of the Sea to Sky Trail that rises from the Lost Lake trail.
Further north still, the turnoff for Wedgemount Lake, just north of Green Lake has lots of parking near the Sea to Sky Trailhead there.